Napa 5-29-11

I love Napa. I have to thank my former boss and good friend, although I haven’t seen him in a long time, Kristian, for introducing me to wine. Always wonderful memories. Here’s Julia’s first wine trip outing over Memorial Day weekend. The italicized verbiage below is from my Yelp reviews at Be-Friend me!

Itinerary – she laughs that I’m such a planner.

The best Muscat – something to smile about.

A cool way to carry a bottle of wine.

A private tasting room


Black Stallion Winery
This was our first stop in Napa this past weekend. I have been to Napa several times before but my friend has never gone. This was a first for both of us to visit a tasting room on the Silverado Trail. We pull into the main drive and see a limo parked right in front of the black stallion statue. Very cool. We made our way around to the parking lot where there were vintage cars parks and made it into the tasting room. We were immediately greeted, carded and given a taste of chardonnay. I picked this spot because according to their Twitter account, they were doing tastings for an Elvis Presley line of wine. I’m a big Elvis fan.

Tastings were $10 and decided to stay inside to taste the Elvis wine. They were not serving it outside though it was a beautiful day. Michele was awesome. We even caught her on her last full day there. So glad because she was so personable. I tried the Elvis Riesling, Pinot Noir, Old Vine Zin and Cab. And the Syrah. But I absolutely fell in love with the Muscat. It was delicious and doesn’t hit you with sugar shock. But it was $38 for a half bottle. I couldn’t justify that. But my friend bough the $14 Riesling and it waved her tasting fee. I also checked in on Yelp so we got a 2-for-1 tasting so that meant we didn’t pay for any tastings.

I inquired about holding a private event here and they do but not full on weddings. They had a private room with a 10-person table with barrels in the room, and then we got a short tour into the cellar area. So awesome. I will definitely want to visit this winery again. Everyone was great. They also had wine related products laid out.

I was wearing the Petra bracelet and Deco Drop Earrings and Michele really liked it. I gave her my Stella & Dot card if she wanted to do a little shopping. I also wanted to tip her but I didn’t have any cash with me. She saw us take the Lipotrim (it avoids hangovers, no joke) and she was also interested in those. I asked her if I could tip her with some pills. Drug dealer, I know. And she was more than happy to take them. She told her coworker that she just met her new best friends. Awesome.

Hagafen Cellars
Starting off at Black Stallion Winery probably hurt this tasting visit immensely. We had a great time there and this tasting room was quite small, limited counter space, one barrel to share with a drawing bowl to rest your glass down. It was $10 a tasting for five wines. But the pours were real skimpy and the wine wasn’t very flavorful in our opinion. I ‘liked’ their Facebook page and we each got a free glass. It was the only glass we got to take home that day and it will probably be a reminder that we didn’t like the wine very much.

I inquired about wedding/private venue space and they didn’t have any but they were more than happy to sell me some wedding wine. I bet.

We sat outside at one of their 3-4 tables with their iron chairs and enjoyed the sun while we snacked on some carbs we brought with us on our trip. We paid for 5 tastings but we just stopped at 4. It was eh. It was great to have the experience and a free glass though.

Darioush Winery
*GASP* What a beautiful spot! Driving thru the iron gates and pillars, tree lined strip and complimentary valet! Awesome! It’s absolutely gorgeous. We walked in and thought we had to check in with the front desk who was busily on the phone. The counters were busy and the room itself was just as amazing as the outside grounds. We had two options for tastings. 5 fines for $35, or 2 for $18. We just went with one tasting of the 2 wines after we walked around looking at the many items for sale and private tasting areas with lounge like seats. We were given a bowl of dried out pistachios which caused me to break a nail. And the tasting was of one red and one white. Too me, nothing truly amazing. Perhaps if I wanted to shell out $35 for tasting of 3 more wines, the probability of me liking one may have improved but I declined.

I was complimented by the valet on my ’07 Civic Si. Shocker. I’m sure he gets to drive a whole bunch of rare cars here so I’ll take his compliment, hand over the small tip and be on our way. Great experience and again, the do not do wedding here. Bummer. It’s gorgeous!

Mario Andretti Winery
Cool spot. Very limited parking. There’s a fountain on the patio, an L-shaped counter for tastings, racing photos, pretzels and mustard samples. Tastings were $15 for 5 wines. I know I had the Pinot Noir and the Cabernet. I got sugar shock from the Muscat. It was pretty hard to swallow. The staff was friendly and the grounds were very nice. There were places to take your wine outside and we met a great group of folks from Livermore. A cat wandering the grounds and of course Andretti shirts you purchase.

A nice group of folks from Livermore took this photo of us. Thank god a good one came from Julia’s cell phone because the guy that was taking photos with my phone was actually taking videos. The ladies in the group really liked the Petra bracelet and I again handed out my cards. I mentioned that most of our jewelry was under $50 and the gentlemen approved.

We were headed to Mustards but it was an hour and a half wait. No, thanks! If the wait was reasonable I would’ve taken Julia next door to Cosentino, where Kristian took Mela and I on our first trip to Napa. So, we finished up with water and food at Hurley’s, I met with Meredith regarding having a private event there, my wedding, and checked out the private room. I think it’s doable. The food was great and the presentation was wonderful. Here is their Critical Mass French Fries.

Then we headed home to our dogs and watched The Hangover Part 2, which was quite extreme. Good times.

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